Last year, around this time, we started the 1 month sugar challenge. The year 2015 started with a not so sweet tooth. Many people embraced the challenge. To be honest, we had definitely underestimated the response for this challenge as we set out to create it. At first there was hesitation by many. Then we saw questions pouring in. Before we knew, a lot of people already accepted the challenge. People were then not just doing it themselves but including their family, their friends. They took onto GenZeal as their own community – very soon people started inspiring others with stories, videos, articles and helpful posts. Even with the bitter cold outside, the Gen Zeal community helped prove that winters are not just for sitting and packing weight. You guys used it to shed weight – and not just for the month, since I know many that stuck to the habits way past the 30 day challenge. Throughout the last year, as I kept talking to people, I realize that the 30 day challenge was way more than 30 days for a lot of people. They adopted as a lifestyle. People came back to us with inspiring stories. Weight loss was just the start! I’ve since heard stories about reversal of chronic illnesses including diabetes and cholesterol issues and so much more.
Personal life of course took better of me and as welcomed our son Aaryav last year, I could not be as active on GenZeal as I had originally intended to be. But then there is always a comeback! As we roll into the 2016 this year, GenZeal makes a comeback.
As I thought about the new year and the resolutions, I thought it would be awesome to keep evangelizing small lifestyle changes that would stick with the people for a long time. Small changes that make a BIG difference. Cutting down on sugar was one such change last year. For a lot of you, it was almost effortless. Even effortless to stay with it throughout the year. This year, we bring on the 30 day Intermittent Fasting challenge.
Fasting conjures up some grueling notions in our mind. Our deep-rooted primal association with food makes us think that fasting is a process filled with pain and hunger and agony that we need to brave through. But little do we realize that we are doing this process almost everyday – without even realizing it. Science today calls it intermittent fasting. The process of intermittent fasting hinges on the fact that you have at least a 12 hour period within a given 24 hours when you are not stuffing your face with something to eat. So in other words, if you have your dinner at 8pm, you don’t eat your breakfast till 8am in the morning. Now that does not sound too bad does it?
So you might say, what is the real challenge in here? I do that almost every day.
Well, for a lot of people today, midnight refrigerator raids are as common as midnight coffee with friends or family. Given the busy schedules that we have, late evenings or nights are the times that we have for socializing. What’s more? food or drinks are perhaps the best tools known to man for socializing since ages. So most of us end up treading late into the nights still stuffing our faces. The same busy schedules that force the socializing past sunset, also a lot of times forces us to delay the dinner time. I personally used to delay my dinner time past 9 or even 10 pm a few years ago. That unfortunately does not change anything the next morning. Most of us are out for the job by 8 or 9 am which forces us to get our breakfast done 7 or 7:30. With dinner at 10 and breakfast at 8am, you are barely able to make 10 hours between the meals. So now you see where the challenge begins? For a lot of people it might just be time management. But then, there are still others who struggle with blood glucose rollercoaster cycles as they toss and turn in their beds each night. That’s when the mid-night fridge raids happen. Maybe a cookie to start with, or a few spoons of ice-cream. The blood glucose fluctuations cause hunger pangs for many people that force them to eat something in the middle of the night. Those my friends, are the challenges that I refer to. Those are what we need to address for 30 days.
So why fasting?
I recently wrote about my experiment with Intermittent Fasting. In that I reference the fact that Intermittent fasting has been shown by research in having a beneficial impact on glucose metabolism, intestinal health, reversing aging as well as cardiovascular and brain functions. It is a real handy tool for a long healthy life. For those of your belonging to the Indian, middle-eastern or some of those older cultures, you might also be able to relate this to the cultural fasting be it either in terms of monthly fasts such as “Ekadashis” or once a year big fast such as the Ramadan. There are several physiological adaptations that happen in the body when we fast. These adaptions are also shown to reverse some of the commonly known chronic health conditions.
There are various different ways an intermittent fast can be done. Of those, the time restriction has been shown to have the best benefit and perhaps the easiest to follow. The foundation for such a fast however is at least a 12 hour gap between two meals. Once this foundation is set and the body is well adapted to that, the fast can be carried over to any duration. The 16 hour mark is when the physiological challenges become much more pronounced and interesting. Such longer duration fasts, when they cross 16 hour or 20 hour marks also start to have pronounced age reversal effects as the body starts building up the mitochondria and revives new energy into the individual cells. The cellular damage is controlled, the clean-up of oxidative damage starts to reverse and a lot more interesting changes start to happen.
However, to get to that place, you need to start with the fundamental 12 hours daily fast period.
With this 30 day challenge, that’s what we will aim at. We will aim at priming our body for the 12 hour regular fast (which really should not be a big deal). But more importantly, we will also try out extended fasts each week to see how much we can sustain. Can we get to that 16 hour mark? Of course, if you are a diabetic or having issues with blood glucose metabolism, you might want to do this a lot more carefully and make sure that you have something to eat ready at hand to avoid becoming hypo-glycemic. Hypoglycemia can definitely be a very concerning condition – possibly fatal for some and hence people with blood sugar issues, should venture into this very very carefully.
Just like the last one, this challenge will be launched in February. The month of February is when we will prime our bodies to be more efficient. That’s when we will be setting a tone for the rest of the year. It is also the month of love. So spread the love, spread the message. Help your friends and family onboard this train to a healthy lifestyle.